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A Modern Model: Interview With Co-founder of Hot DTC Brand Verlas

Diamond and gemstone jewelry brand Verlas stands out in the growing sea of direct-to-consumer (DTC) fine jewelry brands for two reasons: the brand’s styles feel elevated, not like they were ordered up online. Also, the collection is notably well-priced for what it offers: impeccably finished jewelry with high-quality gems.

 

The low prices and pretty jewels piqued my interest in Verlas, but when I emailed with its founders, diamond industry veterans Nidhi S. Dangayach and Nityani Riziya, I learned that the executives have built a modern-feeling model for their 2.0 business—one that many DTC brands, and independent retailers alike, could take a page from.

 

Verlas rings

Verlas diamond engagement rings—styles start in the $300s

 

Here’s my chat (slightly condensed—there was lots to talk about!) with Dangayach:

 

The Zing Report: Hi! What void did you see in the market before coming up with the idea for Verlas?

 

Dangayach: We’re the second generation from diamond trading families. In an industry that’s been male-dominated for many years, we had been thinking about what it was we could do to make our mark. Our industry experience…had us thinking about gaps in the online shopping experience that we felt as consumers—with regards to the perception of quality, service, transparency, customization, and personalization, just everything we, as women shoppers, cared about. We found that most seasoned brands were very strong on their retail game but didn’t have a very thought-through online experience. If anything, it felt somewhat complicated, which is obviously changing very quickly now.

 

In what ways is Verlas a modern jewelry company?

Every aspect of the business was created from what consumers expressed as a desire from their online jeweler. Our proprietary Every-Angle-View 3D Technology was designed to elevate a user’s online experience by giving them an in-depth, 3D view of their jewelry, just as they would view it in-store or in-person. We added a Try-at-Home service offering high-quality replica jewelry, so consumers didn’t have to step out of their homes to try on their favorite pieces.

 

We struck a balance between high-quality and optimum price-per-piece by restricting the number of options we gave to our customers while making their decision-making process less daunting.

 

Providing a price breakdown for almost all of our products [boosts] trust and confidence in the customer’s buying journey. We believe transparency in raw materials, pricing, and processes is the kind of information every customer should have access to.

 

Verlas founders

Verlas co-founders Nityani Riziya and Nidhi S. Dangayach

 

Verlas necklaces Princess

Verlas diamond Princess necklaces in 14k and 18k gold, starting at $483

 

How are you marketing Verlas to stand out in the crowded landscape?

The landscape was and still is very crowded and new brands keep popping every week! This is one reason why, in the beginning, we targeted the U.S., excluding NYC and L.A. It did feel a little conservative at the time, but it helped us solidify our audience. We advertised for the first 2-3 months after launch, following which we paused everything during the pandemic and up until Sept/Oct 2020. It was almost surprising, and very rewarding, that with that media exposure and coverage we earned in two significant online publications, we saw the brand getting discovered and loved by audiences in NYC and Los Angeles throughout 2020.

 

Since then, we’ve evolved our marketing strategy to include more top-to-bottom-funnel platforms, creating awareness and authenticity for the company. In addition to the traditional marketing mix, we’re also exploring new ways to retarget our audience to stay top-of-mind and aggressively work on partnerships to reinforce the brand’s differentiation.

 

Your prices are amazing—how are they made possible?

R&D and merchandising are our key focus areas in order to keep the Verlas catalog feeling fresh, curated, and special. We maintain close to zero inventory costs by staying as true as possible to a just-in-time inventory model. This also ensures every customer receives a newly crafted jewelry piece that was created especially for them. We have optimized the crafting process for maximum efficiency and are constantly looking for ways to improve. Finally, being truly DTC and having 100% control over the end-to-end process allow us to stay profitable at lower margins.

 

What do you feel the young jewelry consumer wants in their diamond pieces?

Young jewelry consumers are tending to move away from traditional choices in their everyday jewelry, as well as [buying for] traditional occasions such as engagements and anniversaries. They want their jewelry to represent their personal style and preferences more than ever before. They care a lot about the longevity of their purchases, especially when gifting to a loved one or thinking about passing it down. Young customers care a lot about quality, value, and the overall experience when working with their jeweler.

 

All photos courtesy Verlas

 

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